Are you a weak leader? I know that’s a tough question to answer. I don’t think there is a single leader that will proclaim,“Yes! I am a weak leader!” At least not publicly.
The reality is that you are not as good of a leader as you would like to be. Yes, you are an honest, open, decisive and principled leader, but there is a roadblock to your success. And this roadblock is also adversely affecting the success of your company, the projects you’re running and the team you are building.
The degree of your success has little to do with the lack of resources; the basis is in the context of your habits, fears and the opinions of others. So you run into what John C. Maxwell, leadership authority, calls the lid. It’s an invisible, self-imposed, barrier that prevents you from becoming the leader you are meant to be.
“Leadership ability is the lid that determines a person’s level of effectiveness. The lower the individual’s ability to lead, the lower the lid on his potential. The higher the person’s ability to lead the higher the lid on his potential.” – John C. Maxwell
The Mcdonald’s success story that almost wasn’t
McDonald’s operates in 118 countries, serves 68 million customers each day, operates over 35,000 restaurants, and employs more than 1.7 million people.
But back in 1940, McDonald’s was a single restaurant located at 1398 North E Street at West 14th Street in San Bernardino, California. The founders were brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald. They were skilled entrepreneurs who steadily grew revenue and by developing the “Speedee Service System” the brothers arguably revolutionized the restaurant business.
But they were ineffective leaders.
Under the McDonald’s leadership, the brothers wanted to keep the franchise to a small number of restaurants. They had weak leadership that in part was due to their limited thinking patterns of what was possible. It took Ray Crock to envision the potential of McDonald’s. Crock was a strong leader who between 1955 – 1963 grew McDonald’s to 500 restaurants.
How do you become a better leader?
The McDonald’s story is a powerful visual. It paints a picture of what a good leader can build. But how do you become that type of leader? You master influence.
“You need someone who understands the limitations inherent in power and chooses to view his or her leadership role as one of influence. Influence is a derivative of power, and it can be wielded more easily and with greater effect.” – Ray Hennessey
So if leadership has more to do with influence, how do you earn it? John C. Maxwell touches on four techniques:
1. What have you done?
2. What can you do?
We follow a leader, in part, because of what he is capable of doing. We want to feel safe in the knowledge that he can lead us to a better place. If your followers believe that you can deliver, they will follow you.
3. Who are you?
Who you attract is determined by who you are. So the better leader you are, the better people your will attract.
4. Who do you know?
Leadership is a relationship business. So it goes without saying that building deep relationships is important. The deeper the relationship, the more profound your influence you will have over others.
Don’t waste another moment
Which of the four methods do you rely on to influence people? Rate them 1 – 4, with one meaning you are highly dependent on it. Once done, ask yourself how you can better optimize 3 and 4? How you can improve your influence requires a degree of self-awareness that can only be accomplished by evaluating your experiences, your life markers.
These markers usually are associated with a transformation, change or time of transition. So if you ask yourself better questions your ability to optimize your number 3 and 4 increases significantly. Here are some questions that have helped me:
- What is my biggest asset?
- What is my biggest liability?
- What is my best habit?
- What is my worst habit?
- What do I value most?
We are not born great leaders. Leadership is a skill that must be nurtured through consistency, discipline, and evaluated experiences. There is a great deal of hard work in becoming a good leader, which is the reason so many leaders are weak.
I often wonder what would McDonald’s look like today, if Richard and Maurice intentionally developed their leadership potential. Some pundits would argue that a company does better under the guidance of its founders.